Trump's drive-by of supporters at Walter Reed has people seeing red

On Sunday, Oct. 4, President Donald Trump tweeted a short video, expressing his thanks to the medical staff at Walter Reed Medical Center. "Its been a very interesting journey, I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the 'let's read the book' school. And I get it. I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing and I'm going to be letting you know about it. In the meantime, we love the USA and we love what's happening."

Though that last part of the statement is a bit unclear as to what exactly Trump loves, one thing that quickly became clear was what the "surprise" he promised to supporters was — a motorcade in front of Walter Reed, with him waving to reporters and to the crowd that has been gathered outside to keep vigil while he is treated for COVID-19. Minutes after his message was shared, videos were posted to Twitter showing the president's drive-by — and plenty of people were not happy. Some questioned if he really had learned anything about COVID.

Social media weighed in on the president's drive-by

The Twitterverse lit up during the dramatic display. One Trump supporter was heard saying: "I will die for him. I will die for that man — happily."

From others, there was shock. The White House Correspondent's Association has since released a statement demanding more information on the president's health on Twitter, saying: "It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing..." They added: "Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health."

The strongest reactions came from within the medical profession itself. Chief of Disaster Medicine and an attending physician at Walter Reed, James P. Phillips, tweeted: "Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential "drive-by" just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."

There is worry for the Secret Service agents in Trump's car

Some of the concern expressed on Twitter was reserved for the Secret Service agents in the car with the president. In another tweet, Walter Reed attending James P. Phillips said, "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play." 

One former Secret Service agent allegedly told journalist Yashar Ali (via Twitter): "I am beside myself. He is willfully disregarding the health and safety of the agents around him. They have no choice as they will carry out their mission but if this is not a clear indication that he could give two sh*** about their health safety then I do not know what is. I remember a time when we used to judge protectees based on whether they traveled over the holidays; thus impacting the family lives of the agents. Now moving forward I guess the litmus test is whether or not the president will kill me."

The Secret Service is also said to be trying to contain an outbreak at its training facility in Maryland (via The New York Times).